Monday, July 22, 2013

What Does God Have to Do with Anything Anyway?

There are many types of demons in our life, not always revealing themselves as from Satan. Some demons grow from within our hearts, nurtured by our ego and selfish drive for power and glorification. These particular demons are often the hardest to remove from our lives simply because we don’t recognize them as demons nor the struggle they create.

Think of a time in your life when you worked really diligently toward the completion of a difficult task. You spent many hours of pondering the perfect solution calling upon your vast experience. You tested different theories against your ideas and developed just the right combination of “mind over matter” and discovered that “you knew the answer all along,” but just had to allow your brain to do the thinking. Then, once the task was completed successfully, you sat back and admired your amazing troubleshooting skills. You pat yourself on the back and toast to your awesomeness. You never even stop to consider that God “may” have had something to do with your results. It was YOUR idea, it was YOUR effort, and it was YOUR glory. What does God have to do with your success anyway?

Just then is when you SHOULD run to the Church and beg God’s forgiveness for thinking you were so awesome to begin with. Even if you DID come up with the idea, wasn’t your intelligence a gift from God in the first place? Even if you DID dedicate many hours of YOUR time, wasn’t it God that first provided you with the time to offer to solve the world’s problems in the first place. Even when others praise you for YOUR effort, wasn’t is really God that inspired you to tackle the task? And doesn’t it annoy you when someone shows up and tries to burst YOUR bubble by pretending that God had “anything” to do with your success?

Sometimes the mere presence of God in our lives, especially when we want to claim credit for our awesomeness, torments us. That’s because deep in our hearts is we know that we are God’s children. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Hebrews 8.10) The torment is our heart trying to inspire us to repent from our ego trip and honor God with our blessings and thank Him for the gifts He has given us.

But these demons are very strong in our hearts because, as fallen human beings, we are in a constant struggle to please our ego rather than please the Lord. Saint Paul characterized it perfectly when he wrote,
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7.14-25)
It is not impossible to defeat these demons when we embrace the Lord as the Master.

We should be comforted by the story in this Sunday’s Gospel lesson. (Matthew 8.28-34,9.1) The legion demons could not even enter the swine without God’s permission. Neither can they control our life if we do not grant them permission. Our task, the REAL task, it to come to the Lord and He will drive the demons out of our hearts making room for His love and grace, IF we desire it. Too often we respond to God with the same words as the demons, What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8.29)

The next time you find yourself wondering why giving God credit for YOUR awesomeness feels like torment, consider the demons are working hard to keep you away from His grace and love. Bring yourself to the Church and invite God to remove these demon thoughts from your heart. THEN replace them with God’s love and grace. Otherwise, remember what the demons did to the swine, “And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.” (Matthew 8.32) If you don’t get them out of your heart you will find yourself running wild off a spiritual cliff.

Of course there will always be someone who would rather you run off a cliff, not because of you, but because they can’t stand giving God credit in their lives either. “And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.” (Matthew 8.34)

No comments: